The University of Wisconsin e-mail system suffered a crash that left the whole system down for a large part of the day Wednesday.

According to Brian Rust of the UW Department of Information Technology, the problems began Tuesday evening when the department tried to upgrade the software it used for the mail stores that are the processing servers for all WiscMail and WiscMail Plus e-mails.

Rust said DoIT switched back to the previous software to get the WiscMail system up and running again. The system was operational again by mid-afternoon Wednesday.

Some initial problems Tuesday night only affected a small percentage of users, and DoIT thought it had restored things back to normal overnight, Rust said. He added the problem became much worse Wednesday morning when activity increased, and everyone lost the ability to access WiscMail.

UW spokesperson John Lucas said the problems with the e-mail system slowed the administrative functions of the university but in no way stopped any of its operations, adding there are always phones available when communication is necessary.

“Everybody’s gotten so used to being in an electronic world,” Lucas said. “It’s a little bit of a hindrance.”

Lucas said while not having e-mail can be an annoyance, it would not prevent UW from informing students, faculty and staff of emergencies through its WiscAlert program.

“It’s not as huge of a concern just because we do have multiple methods at our disposal,” Lucas said. “The one thing we’ve been saying about that is we’re never going to do just one thing. We’ll never have just a single form of notification.”

Lucas added UW does not rely solely on e-mail for emergency notifications because “there is no guarantee you’re reaching everyone.”

DoIT said it does not know exactly what went wrong with the attempted upgrade because the technicians were too busy trying to fix and restore the system before they can investigate the problem.

Rust said UW would be contacting Sun Microsystems, the maker of the software DoIT failed to install, to find out what went wrong before they try to install the upgrade again.